Qazi meets Hurriyat leaders, requests positive attitude
22 June 2001
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Pakistan has advised Hurriyat Conference leaders to play positive role in ensuring a controversy-free summit between Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Pakistani High Commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, who had been holding talks with Indian leaders prior to the summit, today met Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, APHC chairman and Qazi Ahadullah. After the meeting the APHC released its twin letters to Prime Minister Vajpayee and Musharraf, wherein it sought meetings with both the leaders. Significantly Qazi’s invitation to the two Hurriyat leaders was aimed at ensuring unanimity among moderates and extremists within the conglomerate. Bhat represents the moderates while Qazi Ahadullah, a close aide of Jamait-e-islami leader Sayed Ali Shah Geelani, speaks for the diehards. Sources said Hurriyat spokesman in Delhi G.M. Bandey delivered the letters to the Prime Minister’s Office and to the Pakistani High Commission today. The Hurriyat leaders are touting this as the conglomerate’s ‘‘even-handed approach towards Pakistan and India’’ but it is unlikely that this is being done without the consent of Pakistani authorities. Speaking to The Indian Express, Prof Bhat said he hoped Kashmir would be on the agenda of Prime Minister Vajpayee and Musharraf at the Agra summit and the meet would help ‘‘give direction to a final dialogue on Kashmir.’’ ‘‘We hope and pray that the two leaders discuss Kashmir in an atmosphere of love and affection and not with a view to driving the people (Kashmiris) to the fringe of lunacy,’’ he said. He said without Kashmir the summit had no relevance. ‘‘Agra, the place of the Taj Mahal, epitomises love and unity and we hope this spirit will be reflected in the summit,’’ he said. It is likely that Hurriyat leaders will be content with a ring-side view of the summit and will not try to meddle in the process by insisting on an appointment with Musharraf, sources said. However, Bhat said, ‘‘there is no harm if Kashmiri leaders are given an opportunity in voicing their point of view before the Indian and Pakistani leaders.’’ In the similar conciliatory tone, Maulana Abbas Ansari, another senior Hurriyat leader said news of the summit had generated a lot of optimism in Kashmir.‘‘There is an atmosphere of expectancy,’’ he said. Ansari said although nothing dramatic should be expected from the summit as it was not easy to write off 53 years of acrimony yet the gesture was an important milestone in the sub-continent’s history. ‘‘But even if they (Vajpayee and Musharraf) talk as friends our hopes would be kept alive,’’ he said. Ansari said the Kashmiri were expecting the release of all detenues in Jammu and Kashmir. ‘‘This gesture alone would go a great way in winning people,’’ he said. The decision to seek audience has come in the wake of differences within the conglomerate over Pakistan marginalisation of Hurriyat. The moderates were particularly sore over Pakistan’s cool response to the Hurriyat’s desire to meet Musharraf.